News release

Settlement Reached in Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Complaint

NOTE: The following is a joint press release issued by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) have settled a complaint filed by Kathleen Viner alleging that on April 16, 2008 two employees of Zellers' Greenwood, Nova Scotia store discriminated against her on the basis of race and/or colour. As a result of the settlement, there will be no further proceedings in the complaint.

"It's always preferable when parties are able to come to a mutually agreeable settlement in instances where discrimination is claimed to have occurred," said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Human Rights Commission. "These breakdowns in relationships, whether causing intentional or unintentional harms, can be resolved through meaningful dialogue. It allows all involved to better understand what went wrong, learn from the experience and prevent similar issues in the future."

The complaint drew attention to the issue of consumer racial profiling in Nova Scotia, one that the commission has researched and is partnering with retail sector associations to address through an education campaign.

Speaking for HBC, Tiffany Bourré, Director, External Communications said that "HBC's expectation and requirement is that all persons with whom HBC conducts business, including customers, suppliers and associates, will be dealt with in an honest and ethical manner and, in particular, that they will be treated in a dignified, fair and understanding manner at all times." She also stated that "Discrimination, harassment or the use of inappropriate language or action is not tolerated in any circumstance, and that while we are satisfied that the two Zellers Associates did not discriminate against Ms. Viner on August 16, 2008 on the basis of race and/or colour, this settlement with the commission will conclude the complaint."

HBC has agreed in the settlement to develop and implement a program designed to educate its Nova Scotia-based Loss Prevention Officers in relation to consumer racial profiling and train them in dealing with customers appropriately in that respect.